A solitary gravestone in south lyme

For more than 250 years a solitary gravestone has stood on the north side of today’s Shore Road, adjacent to the Old Lyme Land Trust’s Goberis-Chadwick Preserve. Seven fieldstones scattered in the immediate area suggest that others, their names and dates unknown, were buried nearby.

The lone gravestone commemorates the death of a two-day-old baby girl. The stone is modest, but its inscription is remarkably clear. The top line has the baby’s initial, a large “A.” The inscription reads: A Daughter of Mr. RUEBEN, & Mrs. MARTHER, CHADWICK, who died Jenry ye 9th A.D. 1769, AGE 2 DAYS. Erratic spelling, irregular punctuation, and uneven letter size suggest an amateur carver.

Genealogical research confirms that the baby’s name was Abigail and that she was Reuben and Martha Chadwick’s first child. Her parents were both buried decades later in the Duck River Cemetery. The Charles R. Hale Collection of Connecticut cemetery records, compiled in the 1930s, includes “A Gravestone near the House of Richard W. Chadwick, South Lyme” in its list of Old Lyme’s burial places.

— Charles Beal

Gravestones in Duck River Cemetery have stories to tell about the lives of those who passed before us in the Lyme region and the events that shaped the development of a Connecticut town, distinguished by its prominent lawyers and ministers, its shipbuilding and maritime trade, its architecture and scenic landscape, and its contributions to education, conservation, and the arts.